Last summer, after years of trying to plan a trip to Yellowstone, with a stay at the Old Faithful Lodge, we actually got there.
The Old Faithful Inn is as much an icon of Yellowstone Park as the nearby geyser(s) and was an experience we had looked forward to for a long time. We planned that trip around a land tour with Caravan Tours which included the two nights at the lodge and we couldn’t say more about the tour.
Named for the famous geyser in the basin its construction started in 1903, the Old Faithful Inn epitomizes the use of rustic architecture on a large scale and has been copied a number of times. Construction was done using local stone for the building’s foundation, and local lodgepole pine logs for its walls. Craftsmen framed the windows and stairways with gnarled wood selected for its beauty in the construction. It was designed by architect Robert Reamer, and the inn combines rugged materials and organic motifs in a way that expresses both frontier sensibilities and elegance.
The Old Faithful Inn opened in 1904, and was equipped with electric lighting, but Reamer designed the light fixtures to look like candlesticks. Both the electricity and the radiators were fueled by a unique steam generator. Dinner was accompanied by a string quartet (which still plays in the lodge), and dancing was customary on most nights. The east wing was added in 1919 and the west wing was added in 1927, both under Reamer’s supervision, bringing the inn’s total number of guest rooms to about 340. Since that time annexes have been added to increase occupancy and provide for park staff.
Just being in the Upper Geyser Basin is the experience of a lifetime and spending time at the inn is just icing on the cake. The lodge is a magnificent structure with a lobby that stands four stories high with numerous seating areas, a huge fireplace and includes a main dining room, a snack bar and a bar that features light fare. The rustic architectural details are worth special attention and there is a front deck where you can sit and view the geyser.
It seems almost a requirement to have at least one meal in this historic log dining room with its impressive stone fireplace, more for the ambiance than the food. Its best buy is a buffet breakfast and lunch along with a buffet option at dinner. There are several other eating options in the main lodge including a snack bar as well as out-buildings. The general store just down the hill has a good lunch counter and there is a cafeteria in the newest building off to the side of Old Faithful.
We had a good breakfast and dinner in the main dining room and really enjoyed the bison chili and burger in the bar. Prices are not really excessive considering the location. There is very little to brag about in the Spartan guest rooms that have no air conditioning, TV or WiFi but luxurious accommodations are not what we came for.